City man continues to explore his ‘literary side’

Red Deer author Victor Ratzlaff has just released his latest title Choosing the Best, and he’s excited to share the project with readers through two upcoming community events.

Two book launches are planned – the first is set for Sept. 20th from 1 to 5 p.m. in the ‘Warehouse’ next to Living Stones Church. A program will begin at 2 p.m.

The next launch runs at the Red Deer Public Library downtown in the Waskasoo Room on Sept. 27th from 1 to 5 p.m. Ratzlaff will read excerpts from Choosing the Best at each.

The book is a sequel to 2012’s Creation Wars, which followed the experiences of a gifted teacher in a prairie town back in the 1950s. In spite of his Christian faith, Peter struggles with the church’s views of creation which argue for a relatively young earth, and the emerging scientific views supporting a much older universe.

What does all this mean for Peter and his family, who are finding themselves increasingly isolated from the community? Their questioning lands them in the middle of a building storm of controversy as they sincerely seek to hang onto their faith as well.

Ratzlaff had no plans to write a follow-up to Creation Wars, but as time passed ideas began to percolate about some of the experiences that could be awaiting characters in that book. So Choosing the Best essentially continues the story, with a focus on Peter’s daughter Iris Marten who leaves home for medical studies. The plot revolves around the testing that the new environment brings to her ‘faith, emotions and ideals’.

For one thing, things grow more complicated as she gets to know Tim, who holds to a ‘liberal theology and a humanitarian passion’, and another classmate Milton who is struggling with his own sexual identity. Iris is influenced by both men and their personal stories and issues, and she also has to deal with some hardships of her own, including a painful betrayal in relation to some of her own exemplary research work.

“It’s mostly about Iris, who is the teenaged daughter in the first book,” explained Ratzlaff. “I do bring her parents in from time to time – they come into the picture, so it really is a sequel. But it’s also dealing with very different issues.”

These run the gamut from tensions between a liberal and a more traditional, evangelical theology, various perspectives on homosexuality and Milton’s exploration of how his own growing faith will affect his direction in life, and finding the strength to forgive when circumstances could otherwise lead to utter bitterness and resentment.

Of course, with the story set in the 1950s, Ratzlaff had to continually consider what society’s attitudes were in terms of these topics as well at that time.

Having been a student at that time, that wasn’t as difficult as one might think. And his own experiences from that era have no doubt helped him fashion characters that are accessible and ‘real’.

He also has a knack for understanding where his characters are coming from. These aren’t one-dimensional people – Ratzlaff clearly knows how each one thinks and feels about things, and convincingly brings them to life. That creative sensitivity extends to not just descriptions of settings, but how each character speaks and interprets their own world and their own shifting circumstances.

Ratzlaff first took up writing about 17 years ago, compiling historical accounts on family members and his own life. He’s found the process of creating a world complete with well-rounded characters to be an extremely fulfilling and rewarding experience.

Books can be purchased from Ratzlaff by emailing him at vratzlaff@gmail.com or on Amazon.ca.

editor@reddeerexpress.com

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